Monday, November 14, 2016

Dear Loved Ones Who Voted For Trump

I posted a version of this to my Tumblr over the weekend, when I needed to do a sort of a dry run of my reaction to the election aftermath.

More has happened since that post, including the jarring but unsurprising appointment of a member of the Alt-Right (white supremacist nativists who believe America should be a white nation) as one of President Elect Trump's two senior advisers, and the report that the Trump team was so ignorant of the workings of the office of the presidency that Obama is put in the unenviable position of tutoring a successor whom he feels (and it's obvious I agree) is unqualified.

My open letter is in response to a few Facebook posts by people of varying degrees of closeness with me. Most of the post express dismay at feeling attacked by liberals, progressives, and POC (people of color.)
So, let's go...
I know you. 
I love you. 

You’re my family, schoolmate, my old friend. I know you aren’t overtly racist; I know your sister or friend is gay or an immigrant or married a Black man. I know you love me and know I’m bisexual and an LGBTQ activist for many years. (I also know you see me as de facto straight because I married a man. You’re wrong, by the way.)

But listen: I’m exhausting myself trying to explain why we’re angry and afraid. Were you not listening to the man’s rallies? To his own cruel, mocking language or to the even more vicious tone used by those at the rallies? How on earth can you now act baffled that your Latina/Latino, Black, Muslim, or LGBTQ friends and family are upset?

How DARE you?

What did you think would happen?

Initially, I wrote, "Why is it our job to explain to you that your candidate is unprecedented in living memory? That his rhetoric awoke the very ugliest parts of the American psyche?" But then I realized that it is our job, as white progressives, to reach out to our own families. The POC in America have enough to deal with.

But I know: You didn't like that Donald Trump. 

But I don’t care why you voted for him. I don’t care if you were “really just” voting against Hillary. You cast your ballot for a man who dog-whistled a call for his opponent to be assassinated, then threatened to imprison her.

This man will stand trial for the rape of a thirteen year old girl. Who looked at a child my daughter’s age and said, on camera, “I’ll be dating her in a few years.” Who boasts of walking into the dressing rooms of minors in his beauty pageants. Who is accused of assault by a dozen women. A DOZEN. And who bragged about it. 

(And by the way, do not bring Bill Clinton into this. Or Anthony Weiner. Do not judge that woman by the men with whom she is associated, nor any other woman either. Ever. Don’t do it.)

You voted for the same man endorsed by the KKK. The man who explicitly asked on television for a foreign government to interfere with our election. Who advocates killing the families of terrorists. Their children. A man who was woefully and unbelievably ignorant about the ramifications of using nuclear weapons, and asked about them with what was characterized uncomfortably as eager by a witness to the briefing.

He chose a Vice President-elect who thinks gay people should be converted via torture. Trump's just today mentioned being "fine" with same-sex marriage (though his VP is staunchly against the rights of LGBTQ folks to exist) but hints at there being some wiggle room in Roe v. Wade.

I don’t care if you were uncomfortable with his language but liked his policies. (I mean, what policies exactly? Because he didn’t really have many solid ones that aren't unconstitutional, but okay; whatever.)

Whatever your reasoning, you voted for him. So I’ll make it simple for you: 
With that ballot you endorsed, actively or passively, everything the man has said.

You have to live with the backlash. If you can’t understand it, I suggest you look back at his speeches. Look at him. Look at his supporters.

But most of all, just listen.

Listen to my queer voice and my LGBTQ+ family’s. Listen to POC who are angry or scared or both. Listen to religious people whose faith is so often conflated with fear.

I'm seeing your posts about the liberals being divisive. Guys, I can't even address that with a straight face. Your man ran on a blatantly xenophobic platform. He stirred resentment amongst working whites while he tweeted from his gold-plated tower.

There is a vast difference between anger at people grouped by race, ethnicity, or religion and anger at that injustice. I have pulled punches all weekend, and I've tried, when loved ones posted calls for unity, to center myself and be a voice of calm. On Facebook, which is my most public place online. (I've been much more vocal on Twitter.)

But that is a betrayal to my queer family, to my Black and Latina and Mexican friends. A friend shared this post, It is Not My Job to Make Bigots Feel Comfortable, that made me feel I needed to stand firmer here. I'm not advocating her word choices or even her stance, but it may help you understand the root of this fear and rage. I'm not, based on most interactions during and after the election, very hopeful I'll change your mind. But I'm not hopeless.

So you don't get our anger and sadness.
What I’m seeing is you asking why the fear and the worry. 
But in most cases, you’re asking with closed eyes and ears.
It's my wish that I've explained some of it.

Open up, let us in. Hear us out.

I know we’re in your hearts, so try letting us into your minds, too.

With very real love,

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